Thursday December 7, 2023

Queen’s Reign Continues

Macabe Brown-Courier Press via Imagn
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Chess continues to ride “The Queen’s Gambit” wave after an initial lockdown-fueled surge.

Within the first 28 days of the show’s release in October, more than 62 million households watched the limited series — the best such debut in Netflix history.

COVID-19 lockdown measures had already caused an uptick in chess interest, with adding approximately 1 million new users a month. Since the Netflix series debuted, the game has seen another a big bump:

  • added 2.8 million users in November
  • More than 78 million games were played on chess server Lichess in November, doubling from 2019
  • On Dec. 11, more than 70,000 Twitch viewers watched grandmasters Magnus Carlsen and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave face off

It’s Not All Virtual: Toy retailer Goliath Games said chess set sales in November and December are up 1,100% year-over-year. Book sales about chess jumped 603% after the show’s release, according to The NPD Group.

The show, centered on fictional prodigy Beth Harmon, has also started to shift chess demographics. Prior to the series, 22% of members on were women. New incoming members have bumped female membership up to 27%.

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